Teen’s accused murderer ‘too young and vulnerable’
THE Queensland Childrens Court has barred media from a case involving the teenager accused of killing Jack Beasley on the Gold Coast.
The 15-year-old has been charged with murder over the stabbing death of Mr Beasley, 17, during a fight among teenagers outside Surfers Paradise IGA on Friday night.
The boy is also charged with acting with intent to cause grievous bodily harm over the stabbing of another teenager who was hospitalised.
A first appearance mention was held in Beenleigh Childrens Court this morning.
Childrens Court hearings are closed to the public, and by extension journalists, unless a magistrate orders otherwise.
The Courier-Mail made an application to report on the proceeding given the strong public interest in the case and the principles of open justice.
The news organisation made clear it would not identify the defendant - which is already prohibited by law.
However Magistrate Kerrie O'Callaghan knocked back the application citing the defendant's age and vulnerability.
"The media reporting at this point will be prejudicial to the child so I refuse the application," she said.
Media law expert Dr Joseph Fernandez, from Curtin University, has questioned the practice of closing Childrens Court matters given laws already ban the publication of a juvenile defendant's identity.
"I have difficulty with that because it goes against the fundamental principle of justice that it will not only be done, but it will be seen to be done," he told The Courier-Mail.
"Victims, society at large, have legitimate interest in knowing how that process is being conducted. If for no other reason then at least for accountability."
It follows the banning last month of media reporting on a hearing involving two teens accused of lighting a fire that ripped through Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast.
Again The Courier-Mail and other news organisation made an application to access the hearing but were knocked back.
At the time, media law expert Justin Quill, of law firm Macpherson Kelley, said Queensland was one of the most restrictive jurisdictions in Australia when it came to Childrens Court matters and warned of a "slippery slope towards secret justice".
"There's an irony in the judgment where the magistrate criticises the media for misreporting the matter but makes it harder for the media to get all the facts to accurately report the matter," he said.